Francesca Maximé – ReRooted – Ep. 40 – Indigenous Mindfulness with Dr. Michael Yellow Bird

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird rejoins Francesca to discuss Indigenous mindfulness, anti-racism, and the neuroscience of healing through dance.

Dr. Michael Yellow Bird rejoins Francesca to discuss Indigenous mindfulness, anti-racism, and the neuroscience of healing through dance.

Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PhD is Dean and Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba and is a citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes, the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations. He works with Tribal and Indigenous Peoples to bring mindfulness and neurodecolonization approaches to communities for the purposes of healing and improving wellness. He uses neuroscience research to examine how mindfulness approaches and traditional Indigenous contemplative practices can train the mind and positively change the structure and function of the brain.

Links From This Episode: NEURODECOLONIZATION AND INDIGENOUS MINDFULNESS | Meet the Dean of Social Work
Indigenous Peoples in 2020

In this time of pandemic and protest, when issues of racial violence and discrimination are being actively debated in our media, how can one be more effective in working with Indigenous Peoples? Dr. Yellowbird shares the sordid settler-colonial history of genocide, rape, torture, dispossession, and theft against America’s Indigenous Peoples, pointing that the best path to reparation is through acknowledgment and understanding.

“That’s what settler-colonialism is all about; it’s about the elimination of the Natives. So, it really hasn’t had it’s reckoning. There really hasn’t been truth and reconciliation commissions in the United States with Indigenous People.” – Dr. Michael Yellow Bird

Learn how the deep wisdom of indigenous communities can save the world by helping us dissolve the barrier between self and other on Ep. 341 of Mindrolling
Anti-Racism & Examining White Supremacy (8:28)

Francesca and Dr. Yellowbird discuss the difference between being anti-racism versus truly examining one’s own white supremacy bias and privilege. Anti-racism is about speaking out against something wrong externally. It’s not about you. It’s about someone over there with a confederate flag. That’s how we see racism; as external. We don’t see our own position as being racist or white nationalist. True examination is deeply looking at how one is part of, and perpetuating, this system.

“People are more comfortable with anti-racism than they are examining their own white supremacy.” – Dr. Michael Yellow Bird

Explore how a history of racism and prejudice directly contradicts the American ideals of freedom and independence on Ep. 112 of Heart Wisdom
Dance & Collectivist Healing (22:43)

Dr. Yellowbird and Francesca share about the power of healing through dancing in groups. While this form of healing proves difficult in the time of coronavirus, it is a time-honored tradition of healing amongst Indigenous Peoples, with it’s effects now backed by neurological science as a way to help ease the modern phenomenons of anxiety and depression. Singing and dancing are expressions, and since prehistory people have danced and sang when they are trying to define the future.

“We know now some of the neuroscience behind it. We know that when people dance and sing, especially something meaningful…they have this dramatic rise of endocannabinoids in the brain. What that does is blocks pain, increasing feelings of well-being.” – Dr. Michael Yellow Bird 

If you enjoyed this conversation, head over to Francesca’s first talk with Dr. Yellow Bird, all about decolonizing from the inside out, on Ep. 22 of ReRooted
Images via Eomega and @vinnikava on Twenty20